Archive for August, 2007

Question- How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take To Make A Difference?

Answer- Just One

Thanks to Natalie Portman, Chloe Sevigny, and Kyra Sedgewick among others for telling us the story.

Visit National Geographic Green to learn more.

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A great video with some inescapable logical thinking we all need understand when we are making our choices regarding Global Climate Change .

The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See

(My thanks to Fundie Watch: What’s the Worst That Could Happen? who discovered it and passed it on from Marti Abernathey’s blog: Makes Sense To Me)

Wonderingmind42 who I’ve learned from his profile is a high school science teacher origionally posted this video back on June 08, 2007 and since that time has also produced even more video answering his critics entitled

Patching Holes #1

Patching Holes #2

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The first episode of Richard Dawkins new documentary series The Enemies of Reason is online

Link to Google Video: Richard Dawkins – The Enemies of Reason (part 1)

In his last Channel 4 series, Root of All Evil?, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins explored how organised faith and primitive religious values blight our lives.

But the fault line runs deeper even than religion. There are two ways of looking at the world – through faith and superstition or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence – in other words, through reason. Reason and a respect for evidence are precious commodities, the source of human progress and our safeguard against fundamentalists and those who profit from obscuring the truth.

Yet, today, society appears to be retreating from reason.

Apparently harmless but utterly irrational belief systems from astrology to New Age mysticism, clairvoyance to alternative health remedies are booming.

Richard Dawkins confronts what he sees as an epidemic of irrational, superstitious thinking…

He explains the dangers the pick and mix of knowledge and nonsense poses in the internet age, and passionately re-states the case for reason and science.

My only complaint. I wanted to watch Part 2 right away. Well let’s just hope we see Part 2 online real soon.

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This past week blogger and global warming skeptic Stephen McIntyre of ClimateAudit.org after re-crunching the data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies found that there was an apparent error in the data affecting the temperatures recorded for the years 2000 through 2006 in the United States. The data correction reduced the mean U.S. temperature by about 0.15 ºC for that period.

The right wing blogosphere within hours then lit up it excitment ringing bells and blowing whistles like an old fashioned pinball machine. Amongst all the hoopla they were outraged that this news was for the most part being ignored by what they call the MainStream Media and some of the more radical global warming denial extremists were saying this would turn the whole picture coming from the consensus opinion of Global Warming on its head and they were calling for the resignation or firing of NASA’s James Hanson accusing both him and NASA of wilfully covering up or withholding critical information regarding global warming (geez lousie Mcintyre’s data about the correction had only been out for a couple of hours at that point so that’s proof of some conspiracy and cover up, get real will ya!)

When the news first came out I couldn’t read it directly since the McIntyre’s ClimateAudit.org site crashed (most likely due to the increase in in traffic by Rush Limbaugh touting this finding but blamed by the more hysterical right wingers on a DOS attack that must have come from a conspiracy of Global Warming promoters). What I did read was one particular extremist right wings booger’s comments (Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters.org) that said:

"McIntyre has been crunching the numbers used to determine such things as published by GISS, and has identified that the data have recently changed such that four of the top ten warmest years in American history occurred in the 1930s, with the warmest now in 1934 instead of the much-publicized 1998."

I read that and thought wow if that is correct that ‘the top ten warmest years in American history occurred in the 1930s’ that will turn the whole mainstream scientific consensus on Global Warming on it’s head!

But hold it, wait a second, he’s talking about the …

the top ten warmest years in American history

Think again and compare the phrases "Global Warming" and "the top ten warmest years in American history".

Isn’t it Global Warming we talking about not just American Warming? If this rejiggering of the American data for the 1930s that McIntyre has done is accurate and valid shouldn’t we see how this fits in and changes the predictive models that the climate science community has developed before we go jumping to conclusions and accusing NASA of withholding information and news from the public?

And regardless of all that the warm period Steven McIntyre (who does not have an advanced degree and has just two published articles in the journal Energy and Environment which is not even carried in the ISI listing of peer-reviewed journals) is talking about temperature in the 1930s that is old news and no one is hiding it now or have they ever.

In fact the Global Warming Denial crowd has been citing the 1930s period ad nauseam for ages now. The Conservative whoops sorry my mistake, Cybercast News Service was reporting this same stuff last August: A Bit of History for Global Warmers: Look at 1930. The infamous GWD leader Sen. James Inhofe often cites Exxon funded research that tells us how the 1930s were so warm and that’s proof that global warming is bogus.

For what it’s worth climate scientists have always included the warm period of the 1930s in developing their climate model and the climb in the warm temperatures recorded globally in the 1990s that have been attributed to Green House Gasses would have been even higher if it weren’t for the Global Dimming effect from the Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

I said I’ll wait to see what comes of McIntyre’s rejiggering of the numbers and look to see if his research first of all gets published and peer reviewed and beyond that if it changes anything that the thousands of climate scientists that subscribe to the mainstream scientific consensus have to say.

Sure enough the next day Climate Scientist Gavin Schmidt wrote an article on the Real Climate web site entitled 1934 and all that; Another week, another ado over nothing which basically confirmed what I was thinking might be the case in that the changes in U.S. data didn’t do much of anything to change the global climate picture at all:

Global Temperature Land Ocean Index…In the global mean, 2005 remains the warmest (as in the NCDC analysis). CRU has 1998 as the warmest year but there are differences in methodology, particularly concerning the Arctic (extrapolated in GISTEMP, not included in CRU) which is a big part of recent global warmth. No recent IPCC statements or conclusions are affected in the slightest.

Sum total of this change? A couple of hundredths of degrees in the US rankings and no change in anything that could be considered climatically important (specifically long term trends).

However, there is clearly a latent and deeply felt wish in some sectors for the whole problem of global warming to be reduced to a statistical quirk or a mistake. This led to some truly death-defying leaping to conclusions when this issue hit the blogosphere. One of the worst examples (but there are others) was the ‘Opinionator’ at the New York Times (oh dear). He managed to confuse the global means with the continental US numbers, he made up a story about McIntyre having ‘always puzzled about some gaps’ (what?) , declared the the error had ‘played havoc’ with the numbers, and quoted another blogger saying that the ‘astounding’ numbers had been ‘silently released’. None of these statements are true. Among other incorrect stories going around are that the mistake was due to a Y2K bug or that this had something to do with photographing weather stations. Again, simply false.

But hey, maybe the Arctic will get the memo. (My Emphasis)

And then very shortly after that Tim Lambert wrote in the ScienceBlogs.com Deltoid Blog Global warming totally disproved again (August 10, 2007 2:33 PM):

How much difference did the adjustment make to the US temperature series? Well, it changed this:


to this:


Not much difference. The right hand end of the red curve has moved down a little bit, but this decade is still the warmest ever recorded in the US. The change to the global temperature series is imperceptible.

And the next day he wrote regarding the right wing hysteria Did NASA report that 1998 was the warmest in the US?:

Because of the corrections to the GISS data 1998 and 1934 went from being in a virtual tie, to being in a virtual tie.. This, of course, has not stopped global warming denialists from endlessly hyping it as a big change….

…NASA’s data about 1998 being the warmest in the US was not "much-ballyhooed". Because NASA actually reported that it wasn’t as warm as 1934. In 2001, NASA’s James Hansen wrote:

The U.S. annual (January-December) mean temperature is slightly warmer in 1934 than in 1998 …

In comparing temperatures of years separated by 60 or 70 years the uncertainties in various adjustments (urban warming, station history adjustments, etc.) lead to an uncertainty of at least 0.1°C. Thus it is not possible to declare a record U.S. temperature with confidence until a result is obtained that exceeds the temperature of 1934 by more than 0.1°C.

As it turns out even Steven McIntyre while disagreeing with Gavin Schmidlt’s characterization of the data change as no big deal has said himself:

"My own view has been that matter is certainly not the triviality that Gavin Schmidt would have you believe, but neither is it any magic bullet."

My thinking on this … the extreme right wing and Global Warming Denial blogosphere will milk this for all it’s worth (to them) while in reality it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the whole scheme of things supporting the scientific consensus of Anthropogenic Global Warming. All the hot air the right wing bloggers are pumping out surrounding this issue however might make 2007 the hottest year on record by far.

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Well it looks as though Steven Milloy is taking a page out of he infamous Kent “Prisoner #06452-017” Hovind’s playbook and offering up a Anthropogenic Global Warming Denial version of the Hovind $250,000 Challenge. (Here a link to the TalkOrigins.org page on the ridiculous audacity of Kent Hovind’s $250,000 Offer.)

Milloy is now giving us The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge:

The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge

I see this as just a desperation Hail Mary Pass publicity stunt from one of the leading Global Warming Deniers out there in debate over whether global warming is anthropogenic in origin debate. It just another one of The Stupid Things Partisans Sometimes Say and Do.

In much the same way that Hovind’s Challenge gives creationists something to cling too I think The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge will give the Global Warming Deniers that are still aroundsomething to hang on too. What we are going to hear now is desparate Global Warming Deniers without a logic arguement to stand on citing that no one has ever won The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge.

And no one probably ever will.

As Naomi Oreskes (a Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego) is quoted saying in the online article Global Warming: How Do Scientists Know They’re Not Wrong? :

Best predictor wins

Contrary to popular parlance, science can never truly "prove" a theory. Science simply arrives at the best explanation of how the world works.

Global warming can no more be "proven" than the theory of continental drift, the theory of evolution or the concept that germs carry diseases.

"All science is fallible," Oreskes told LiveScience. "Climate science shouldn’t be expected to stand up to some fantasy standard that no science can live up to."

Instead, a variety of methods and standards are used to evaluate the viability of different scientific explanations and theories.

One such standard is how well a theory predicts the outcome of an event, and climate change theory has proven to be a strong predictor.

The effects of putting massive amounts of carbon dioxide in the air were first predicted in 1896 by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius.

Noted oceanographer Roger Revelle’s 1957 predictions that carbon dioxide would build up in the atmosphere and cause noticeable changes by the year 2000 have been borne out by numerous studies, as has Princeton climatologist Suki Manabe’s 1980 prediction that the Earth’s poles would be first to see the effects of global warming.

In 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen outlined three scenarios of how the global average temperature might rise over the next 30 years. Nearly 20 years later, the observed rise has followed his medium-range scenario with high accuracy.

Hansen’s model predictions are "a shining example of a successful prediction in climate science," said climatologist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.

Schmidt says that predictions by those who doubted global warming have failed to come true.

"Why don’t you trust a psychic? Because their predictions are wrong," he told LiveScience. "The credibility goes to the side that gets these predictions right."

In another article on the LiveScience.com website, Global Warming or Just Hot Air? A Dozen Different Views, Naomi Oreskes is again quoted as having said in an editorial piece in The Washington Post in 2004:

"Many people have the impression that there is significant scientific disagreement about global climate change. It’s time to lay that misapprehension to rest. There is a scientific consensus on the fact that Earth’s climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason. We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it.

"The basic picture is clear, and some changes are already occurring. A new report by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment-a consortium of eight countries, including Russia and the United States-now confirms that major changes are taking place in the Arctic, affecting both human and non-human communities, as predicted by climate models."

I think that Oreskes saying "We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it" sums it up. The scientific debate is on global warming being real and anthropogenic in origin is over in much the same way as the scientific debate on creationism is too. Of what debate still remains 99% of it comes from politically aligned or motivated organizations (such as CEI, Heartland, Steven Milloy of JunkScience.com etc etc.) and not the scientific community. We need to stop all this partisan Baghdad Bob ranting on the right and shift the debate to just what to do about it.

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A collection of the YouTube videos from the BBC profile of Richard Dawkins upon the publication of A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love back in 2003.

PROFILE/: Richard Dawkins The Devil’s Chaplain? Part 1 of 3

PROFILE/: Richard Dawkins The Devil’s Chaplain? Part 2 of 3

PROFILE/: Richard Dawkins The Devil’s Chaplain? Part 3 of 3

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